Several government agencies in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang have banned civil servants and students from participating in the customary fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which began at dusk on June 28 and will end on July 28.
Statements released on school and government websites justify the ban by saying it would “protect students' wellbeing and prevent the use of schools and government offices to promote religion,” according to the Associated Press.
This is not the first time the Chinese government has curbed the religious and cultural liberties of Xinjiang’s ethnic Uighur Muslims. A similar fasting restriction was also imposed in 2012. The recent ban, however, has particularly angered the Muslim community because security in the region has already been tightened, following a series of deadly attacks that the government blames on separatist Muslim Uighurs.
Here's more from the AP on why the government and the Muslim minority can’t seem to get along:
Violence has escalated in recent years in Xinjiang. The ruling party blames rebels who it says wants independence, while members of the region's Uyghur ethnic group complain that discrimination and restrictions on religion, such as a ban on taking children to mosques, fuels anger at the ethnic Han Chinese majority.
Most members of the Uighur community are Muslim. The Chinese government is also concerned that religious groups and their activities might spur opposition to the country’s one-party rule.